National Gazetteer, 1868


Harris - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868


"HARRIS, a parish and post-office village among the Western Isles, county Inverness, Scotland. It consists of the southern extremity of Lewis and the adjacent islets. The Little Minch lies between it and Skye. Harris Sound separates it from North Uist, and the Atlantic bounds it on the W. It is about 20 miles long, and its greatest breadth 24 miles. The principal islands included in the parish are Scalpay, Taransay, Scarp, Pabbay, Ensay, Killigray, Berneray, and Anabich. The southern part of Harris is nearly isolated by the approximation of the E. and W. lochs of Tarbet, forming a neck of land not over a quarter of a mile wide. The northern portion is distinguished as the Forest, though quite devoid of trees. The surface is extremely mountainous, rising at Clisheim to the height of 3,000 feet, above sea level. The coast is rugged, and indented by numerous bays and rocky creeks. There is hardly any arable land, the greater portion of the surface consisting of dreary pasture, swamp, and lochs. The principal village is Tarbet, which has constant communication with Skye by steamboat. The parish is in the presbytery of Uist, and synod of Glenelg. The church was built in 1840. Here is a Free church, and a church of the Royal Bounty mission is stationed at Tarbet. The quoad sacra parish of Bernera consists of the islands within the sound of Harris. Here are parochial and four other schools. Lord Dunmore is the sole heritor. The parish formerly belonged to the Macleods, who settled here after its invasion by the Northmen in the 10th and 13th centuries. A priory stood at Rowadill dedicated to St. Clement, and said to have been founded by David I. There are ruins of several chapels, which seem to have been subordinate to the priory. The Clach-na-greine, or "sunstone," at Bernera, and the Team-pall-na-l'Annait, at Killigray, are supposed to be of Druidical origin. There are other Druidical remains at Nisabert and Borve, at which last place is a Danish tower. Iron and copper exist in small quantities. Freestone and granite are abundant, but gneiss is the prevailing rock. Asbestos is found in small quantities, and kelp is collected for manure. Mineral springs exist. Fish and fowl abound. A fair for cattle is held in July."

"ANABISH, an island in the Hebrides, forming part of the parish of Harris, in the county of Inverness, Scotland. In the decennial period from 1841 to 1851, the population increased from 41 to 63."

"BERNERA, an island in the parish of Harris, Inverness-shire, Scotland. It is situated 1 mile N. of North Uist. Its length is 32 miles, by 2 in breadth. The minister of the church here has charge of all the islands in the Sound of Harris."

"GROAY, a small island of the Western Isles, Scotland, lying between Harris and North Uist, and forming part of the parish of Harris."

"PABBAY, an island in the parish of Harris, Western Isles, coast of Scotland, 3 miles W. of Cape Difficulty. It is a small rocky island, about 3 miles in length by one broad, situated in Harris Sound, on the S. side of Lewis Island."

"SCALPA, (or Scalpay or Glass Island), an island in the parish of Harris, Hebrides, Scotland. It extends in length nearly 3 miles, with an extreme breadth of about 1½ mile, and is situated at the entrance of East Loch Tarbet. The surface is uneven, low, and heath-clad, and consists of several small peninsulas formed by the sea. On a promontory extreme E. stands a fixed light, put up in 1789, and visible at a distance of 16 miles. On the W. coast are two natural harbours."

"SCARP, an island in the parish of Harris, and one of the Hebrides, county Inverness, Scotland. It extends in length about 3 miles, with a breadth of about 2 miles. It is situated at the entrance of Loch Reasort, and consists of one single mountain 1,000 feet above the sea."

"SKEOTISVAY, an island in the parish of Harris, and one of the Hebrides, county Inverness, Scotland, three-quarters of a mile W. of Scalpa. It extends in length about three-quarters of a mile, by half a mile in breadth. It is situated in East Loch-Tarbet, and is uninhabited."

"TARRANSAY, an island in the parish of Harris, county Inverness, Scotland, 1¼ mile from Grodernish. It is situated off the entrance to West Loch-Tarbert. The island extends in length 4½ miles from E. to W., with an extreme breadth of upwards of 2 miles. It comprises two peninsulated hills, which rise to an altitude of 800 feet above sea-level. Gneiss and granite are the prevailing rocks. Its inhabitants are chiefly engaged in the fisheries."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003